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ittle more than one month ago, Quiz Bowl members attracted 15 new players to their first meeting. This jump in membership was just the first sign of what is turning out to be a great season for Quiz Bowl, according to adviser Carmen Garland. “They’re all pretty ambitious, and I’m happy with how well they’ve been doing,” she said. The team placed fourth out of 60 at Roseville’s’ RAT-RACE tournament, which qualified it for a national tournament in Chicago this spring. In a weekly league tournament, the A team is undefeated with sights set on success ahead. The team is currently ranked second in state. Pictured above are members of the team including sophomore Jonah Kupritz, senior Simon Fruchtman and juniors Spencer Anderson and Elliot Schwartz.

he 2012-2013 Echo staff was among 24 school newspapers in the nation to win the National Pacemaker award from the National Scholastic Press Association, the highest honor the organization presents. The Echo also won this award in 2010, and qualified as a finalist in 2013, 2011 and 2007. The Hopkins Royal Page was another Metro area winner of the National Pacemaker award. Pictured above are seniors Emma Weisner, Ari Weinstein, Brenna Cook and Gabe Bichinho, and juniors Peter Johnson and Emily Melbye, who are working to copy edit stories for the newspaper Monday night.

uring the orchestra’s Alumni Concert, students will play a piece by Park eighth grader Kinsey Scott. Scott began writing this piece almost a year ago when in Newtown, Conn., when an intruder shot 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Approximately 1,000 miles away from Connecticut, Scott said she was shocked to hear of the events, which occurred the day of her 13th birthday. “I was taken aback by it. It felt like the worst thing that could happen to children, and something needed to be done about it,” Scott said. Scott said the lack of discussion in school prompted her to find a means to convey her feelings. “I felt really motivated to write the piece because none of my teachers discussed what had happened,” she said. “By writing the piece I was able to meet my emotional needs.” In early January, Scott showed orchestra director Miriam Edgar her piece. After looking over Scott’s work, Edgar decided the orchestra would play it for its next concert. “When I heard Kinsey’s piece, I thought it would be better represented by the entire orchestra,” Edgar said. Although Scott wrote the parts of the piece on her own, she and Edgar worked on rearranging it for the orchestra. “She doesn’t have formal theory training and yet she found ways to write what she felt,” Edgar said. “We have been working on

the form of the piece so that people will understand her ideas better.” Edgar said she is proud of the effort Scott put into her work. “The fact is that she took this tragedy and made something constructive out of it,” she said. Edgar said she is also proud of her students’ respect for Kinsey’s musical piece. “I am really proud of how accepting the high schoolers were of the piece,” Edgar said. “They were willing to try something new and this wouldn’t be something I’d see in another school district.” Sophomore orchestra student Paul Friederichsen said he is honored to be able to play this piece. “I think the piece is a great honor to those affected by Sandy Hook,” he said. “It’s impressive that Kinsey wrote it.” The orchestra, along with alumni of the orchestra program, will perform Scott’s piece and others 7 p.m. Dec. 19 in the high school auditorium. Scott said she is still astounded the high school orchestra will perform her piece. “I feel like this is one of the best things that has happened since the shooting,” she said. “It’s amazing because it’s not just any piece. It’s the one I wrote intended for my emotional needs, and now it’s for everybody,” Scott said.

hen senior Mary Pavia and juniors Layna Crandell and Noa Raasch proposed the gender equality club, the administration’s reaction surprised them. The gender equality club, among others including the knitting club and the pingpong club, encountered different situations regarding their establishments. According to Principal Joann Karetov, to create a club students must present a reasonable purpose and explain why it is essential to the high school. “Students have to come with a purpose

of what (the club) plans to do,” Karetov said. “They have to determine why it has to be at St. Louis Park. If you don’t build that club up beforehand, it doesn’t work.” Additionally, there is a limit to the number of official clubs the school can economically support. According to Karetov, a club is considered official when a faculty adviser is paid a stipend for his or her services. The gender equality club was one new club to encounter difficulties in establishment. After meetings with Karetov, they decided to become unaffiliated with the school. Karetov said she thinks the topic of gender equality should be handled by professionals rather than students.

reshman Noah Smith said he and his family bike from their home on Lake of the Isles to Beth El Synagogue almost every week. The trails would assist the Smith family on their weekly trek. “There would be no risk of cars and it would be more accessible,” Smith said. “It would be less dangerous.”

A new program put together by the St. Louis Park Parks and Recreation Office will help build 12 sidewalks and trails by 2014. Connect The Park! is a 10 year, $17 to $24 million project adding a system of bike trails and sidewalks into St. Louis Park that started in 2012. Sean Walther, senior planner for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said the schools were a huge consideration when planning the initiative. “We have included school areas as prime locations. Our concentration has been on the junior high and high school for the bike trails and on the elementary schools for the sidewalks,” Walther said. Junior Dave Herrera said he will get a lot of usage out of the expanded bikeways.

“I love it because I am a big biker. We don’t have enough trails in the city considering Minneapolis is such a big biking community,” Herrera said. Walther said this plan is aimed at substituting driving with biking. “We wanted to create a transportation network that is alternative to cars,” Walther said he believes the trails will be more ecofriendly. Herrera said he thinks students will utilize the system. “It is a good way to stay in shape, save money on gas, help the environment and enjoy nature,” Herrera said Walther said part of the idea is to give everyone access to these constructions. “We are going to establish a quarter mile

grid of sidewalks and a half mile system of trails,” he said. This system will help those who bike frequently. Sophomore Kennedy Septon said he supports the trails as they would provide a safer means for cyclist. Septon said he was recently hit by a car while biking. “I was going to the bike trail actually, crossing the street and a woman just came out of nowhere,” he said. Septon said he thinks the trails will help lower the safety risk that bikers may face when riding on streets. “The other people on the trails are not in a vehicle so they can’t hurt you,” Septon said.

“I offered a group with social workers because it sounds like there’s a bigger interest and concern involved,” Karetov said. Crandell said she understood Karetov’s reasoning, however, it was not the direction they were anticipating for the club. This prompted them to unaffiliate with the high school. “Originally Ms. Karetov thought that it wasn’t really club material because it is kind of a heavy subject,” Crandell said. “I understand her point of view, but she wanted a social service person to come in and advise our group during the school day. That wasn’t really what we were trying to achieve.” In addition to the gender equality club, the knitting club, proposed by Rachel Vortherms, faced issues as well. In regards to this club, Karetov said she believed it could not be established because of safety reasons involving bringing knitting needles on school grounds, which may qual-

ify as a weapon under school policy. “It was a little surprising because they seemed almost angry at us for wanting to begin a club,” Vortherms said. “They should be excited about students getting involved in school, and it didn’t feel that way at all. It felt like we were being shamed.” Although some clubs faced challenges, the pingpong club, initiated by junior Danny Goldstein, was approved. “I wanted to create the Pingpong club after I grew to love it at camp this summer. I played all day and all night,” he said. “I feel proud our administration supports such a variety of clubs and cares about the interests of our students.” Under these circumstances, the school supports the pingpong club because it can provide space and equipment for the club to utilize, according to Karetov. Additionally, the club’s affiliation with the school allows them to compete against other clubs and teams around the Metro area. As a result of the issues surrounding club establishment, some students believe the administration should leave the process of forming a new club up to the students involved. Junior Eddie Diaz said he thinks it should be easier for students to form a new club.

“It should be left up to students because clubs are a form of expression,” he said. “It’s their choice to decide what they want to do after school.” In addition to assuming a less influential position, other students believe the administration should not play such a large role in the process of establishing a new school club. Junior Sagal Abdirahman said she thinks the administration is doing too much and recent denials portray the administration in a negative manner. “Students know what they want and what they see as necessary,” Abdirahman

said. “It puts the administration in a bad place because it makes them look like they want to turn down things students feel they need.” Despite controversy regarding these clubs, Karetov said she believes clubs encourage students to become more engaged in the school community. “(Clubs) are a great idea,” Karetov said. “I know how important they are, and the more invested students are at school, the more they want to be here.” Students interested in starting a club can contact Karetov or find more information in the principal’s office.

hooting on site has a different meaning in today’s Hollywood. As society becomes increasingly violent, new research blames movies for the change. A study conducted at the University of Ohio links gun violence seen in movies to an increase in aggressive behavior, especially among youth. This psychological relationship between seeing a weapon and having violent thoughts is called the weapons effect. The study contends film producers may be inadvertently making youth more aggressive by increasing guns and violence in film sequences. A second study, published November 2013 in the Journal of Pediatrics, shows the amount of gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled the last 28 years while violence in R- and PG-rated movies has remained the same. The study used analysts to identify violence in five-minute film segments for half of the top 30 films since 1950 and the presence of guns in violent segments since 1985. Results concluded that since 2009, PG-13 movies contain as much


or more violence as R-rated movies. Sophomore Chris Miles said he thinks added violence in PG-13 movies should be expected given the current interests of the teenage demographic. “There is more violence because teens want to see more action,” Miles said. “Guns and violence provide more action, which provides more sales.” Daniel Romer, co-author of the study published in Pediatrics, said he agrees violence adds to a movie’s success. “Violence is something that really helps a movie do well at the box office,” Romer said. “People like to watch it. It also helps the market abroad, because it doesn’t rely as much on dialogue.” Romer said he is concerned the increase in violence in PG-13 movies may be the cause of violent actions off the screen and warns that movie violence, especially that depicting guns and weapons, can have serious consequences. “Weapons have two effects on people,” he said. “First, they cause people to be afraid and second, people think about being aggressive and it brings up violent thoughts. Movies contribute by showing guns in violent contexts.” Movies amplify this effect, according to Romer. “Movies have a big function in our culture,” he said. “They reflect how we feel about the world and each other. Violence in movies correlates with violence in the world.”

Junior Diana Pinzari said she believes this correlation can be seen in her community. “When people watch movies,” she said. “They mimic the behavior that’s shown on screen.” According to the Box Office Review, seven of the top 10 grossing films of 2013 are rated PG-13, because they’re available to a wider audience than R-rated movies. Producers prefer making PG-13 movies because they have a greater potential for profit, so it benefits them to get that rating despite mature themes. Despite evidence of increasing violence official rating guidelines have not changed. Freshman Callia Blake said she thinks changes should be made to the rating system. “I think small changes should be made,” Blake said. “Violence should have a different rating.”

rom the moment I turned in my PSAT with the box checked allowing schools to mail and email me, I knew I made a grave mistake. Since that day, I have unsubscribed to every college email, and they still pour in every day from schools I didn’t know existed. In recent years, colleges have stepped up their marketing game. A 2010 Lipman Hearne study reveals schools with 2,000 to 5,999 students increased their marketing budget 100 percent in the period from 2001 to 2010 while smaller and larger institutions display similar trends. But where does this money come from? Tuition, of course, among other sources. Still more frightening, public college tuition across the country rose an average of 42 percent while private school tuition rose more than 30 percent in the same span, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. “ T h i n k of all these trees!” I say to myself, recycling countless brochures, packets, pamphlets and anything else these schools send my way. I’m constantly bombarded with this information, and in the rare event that I take time to view it, my observations puzzle me: for as much as schools spend on marketing themselves over other institutions, the information they present is shockingly similar. Even visiting school campuses and talking directly to admissions officers leaves me with only a vague idea of what differentiates the rest, other than its mascot and location. Maybe colleges struggle in differentiating themselves from similar schools because they have so few differences in the first place. The education at one large research university differs very little from the learning at another, and while experiences may differ slightly, most college graduates will say choosing one post-secondary institution over another didn’t drastically impact the course of their life. This reality makes it arduous for applicants to select schools that match their exact interests, but students can take steps to compile a list of schools where they’d be happiest. First, applicants must picture the experience they’d like academically, socially and geographically, and begin research from there. In researching, consult students at the colleges themselves or a book of student reviews as these give the most honest insight into the culture of different schools. Most importantly, if applicants find themselves staring at that box on the PSAT allowing schools to contact them directly, they should do the Gmail servers a favor and leave that box of doom unchecked.

fter a semester-long hiatus, Park Tech is ready to restart. Park Tech, the computer club at the high school, closed its doors earlier this year when supervisor David Engelhardt left the high school. Senior Arden Chrusciel, a senior member of Park Tech, said getting another supervisor wasn’t easy. Eventually first year teacher Jacob Utitus agreed to step in and advise the club. “I’m a first-year teacher, and my workload is pretty heavy right now. It might be a bit much of me so it will really be on the students to step up and get their club back,” Utitus said. “So if they want to set it up this year, it will be mostly student-run.” With a new supervisor, the Park Tech team is ready to open its doors. Senior KongSue Yang said the main focus of the club is

At first I had bad writers’ block. It took me three days to start. I visited my mentor Shanna Gronewold’s house, and she helped me. Every time I saw her perform spoken word or write poetry, I saw how much she loved it. I realized how good of a thing poetry can be. I wouldn’t have started writing or had the courage to perform my poem without her. I had to do it for a school project initially, but in the end what motivated me to make my poem what it became were my friends’ personal experiences – the stories of everyone around me.

I was at the Poetry Slam only to support

fixing staff members’ computers. Students are also encouraged to bring in their damaged electronics. “With new members, it’s a possibility that we will be able fix as many students electronic devices as staff computers,” Yang said. The club will host interest meetings during the semester to welcome students who are thinking of joining. Any interested students should talk to Utitus, Chrusciel said. At the moment only three seniors are members of Park Tech. “Most of us are seniors, and we have no one to cast our knowledge onto, which is really too bad,” Chrusciel said. “We hope in the future that Park Tech can grow even bigger.” Students don’t need an extensive knowledge of technology to join Park Tech, Chrusciel said. “Even if you just want to learn how to fix your own computer, Park Tech is the club for you,” Chrusciel said. Yang said he agreed, and said Park Tech can be a fun experience for any student. “It’s a great time hanging out with students who all love fixing computers,” Yang said.

my friend who was going to perform, but she told me before she went that I should read my poem, even though I had never read it aloud, or planned to. I was nervous. I was shaking. I thought it was too long. After a while I got into it, however, and to be honest, I didn’t think I would win, but I felt good that I accomplished something. I felt my words meant something.

It can help with releasing people’s emotions in an open, welcoming environment. It hits our heartstrings, and you want to vocalize those feelings. The Poetry Slam is a worry-free environment and even if people

stutter or mess up, they won’t get ridiculed. It’s an accepting place.

My poem took a lot of work, and I couldn’t have done it by myself without the support from my friends. I also wouldn’t have had the courage to present it the way I did without their help.

My favorite line is “experience the truth of the seven-letter word, poverty.” It shows the reality of how people live and how poverty shouldn’t be overlooked.

rom deli meats to bakery goods, Nelson’s Meat Market brings a variety of new and unique foods to the corner of Dakota and Minnetonka Boulevard. Nelson’s Meat Market was founded in the west end of downtown Hopkins in 1963. Established by Leonard Nelson, Nelson’s provides fresh meats, bakery goods, deli items and catering service to the community. P r i c e s range from $2.99 for jerky to $6 processing per bird for meat processing, along with many other reasonably priced goods. Rick Nelson, the son of founder Leonard Nelson runs the business. Nelson’s moved to the St. Louis Park location in the fall, when eminent domain and the expansion of Shady Oak road in Hopkins made it difficult for their business to thrive.

Owner Rick Nelson said he was happy about the move, and that the business in Park is doing well. “I feel very confident about the move. St. Louis Park has a very neighborly feel, which is exactly what we cater to,” Nelson said. Freshman Marcie James said she was excited when the new location opened and is a regular at Nelson’s. “They have really good meat,” she said. “It’s also close to my house and a great local option.” James is one of the regular customers Nelson’s gained in Park. Nelson said he is hopeful the store will continue to attract new customers in its new location. “Although we may lose customers from Hopkins, we will always have a few regulars, and hopefully many new ones as well,” he said. Nelson said he is also interested in hiring high school students to help out around the store. “In Hopkins we always had one or two students helping out at the store. We would be looking for any students interested in working 10-12 hours a week packaging and helping with odd jobs as long as they were also able to keep up with their school work,” Nelson said. Senior Brandon Dale said he supports Nelson’s because the store is a small business. “I would shop at Nelson’s because it’s a local business, and we need more small local shops in St. Louis Park,” he said.

he robotics club was not content with last season’s results, but is making improvements for a more successful year according to adviser Trevor Paulson. Paulson attributed the poor performance at last year’s event to mechanical issues. “We ran into technical problems with parts of the robot,” he said. “We were in the bottom five teams.” According to junior co-captain Francis Thelen, the team’s primary concern is raising awareness of the club. “We’re trying to recruit more people,” he said. “We want people to know it’s not all about building robots. We want to reach out to more companies (for funding) so we can start next year with a solid foundation.” The team members find out what functions their robot has to perform Jan. 4, and then have until March 27 to create the machine for this year’s competition. Until they find out what the robot has

to do, the team members will spend their meetings doing housekeeping work, according to Paulson. Paulson said the team hopes to construct the robot quickly, in order to have more time to tweak issues and practice. “Our goal is to get the robot built in the first three to four weeks so we have time to do testing and training for a week before the competition,” he said. The club expects to have around 20 members, but hopes for closer to 30. Students can sign up by talking to Paulson.

h e n Minnesota’s same-sex marriage amendment passed last May, senior Sophie MacklemJohnson said she immediately saw students rally in support of gay couples, like her parents. “People have been nothing but positive toward my family,” Macklem-Johnson said. “As soon as same-sex marriage was made legal, some people even excitedly asked if my parents were getting married.” In a survey conducted in some English classes, 93 percent of students said they think the school is an accepting atmosphere for

or some students, their time in middle school may consist of embarrassing memories filled with strange outfits and awkward moments. While discussing his experience in middle school, transgender senior Declan Fruchtman shook his head with disappointment. “Middle school kids are pretty immature generally, and that’s when people are mean to each other, in my experience,” he said. According to Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) adviser Kyle Sweeney, many LGBTQ students who arrive from the middle school complain about the lack of support in the middle school. This has decreased recently, but improvements that can be addressed. “Ninth graders will come up and they will be like, ‘no, we didn’t have any support there,’ and there’s no way for them to get together,” Sweeney said. Senior Josh Kuether said he came out as homosexual in eighth grade, and thinks the middle school should create a LGBTQ support group to provide help. “I know how much the (LGBTQ support group) helps people here at the high

school,” Kuether said. “Once you get to high school there are still some people who aren’t out, but most of them are. They get the help from LGBTQ to figure out what to do if things get bad.” Middle school counselor and dean Randy Zutz said there is no LGBTQ or GSA group because the middle school does not have a social worker or personnel to run a groups. “It’s basically been an issue here,” Zutz said. “We didn’t have staff to do it. We were cut to the bone eight years ago and continued to cut until about three years ago.” Lauren Buxton, adviser for the LGBTQ support group at the high school, said she thinks the implementation of support groups in the middle school would be beneficial to LGBTQ students. “(Some LGBTQ ninth grade students) were aware of their sexuality prior to high school,” Buxton said. Sweeney also said she thinks the staff is supportive but there is a lack of training at the middle school. “I think the staff is supportive and the staff are allies but maybe a little less trained in what it means to be an ally than at the high school,” Sweeney said.

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came out to the first per Tuesday of Thanksgiving b enth grade. It wasn’t a surp all I’m pretty flamboyant. I’d say the gay stereotypes, so I’d say tha a lot of thoughts going around abo one called me out about it. I hon problems at all. Everyone was real and I never really encountered a lo I don’t know how much of school) staff knew. Mrs. (Michell Mrs. (Jessica) Edelheit knew, an both really great and really supp it. Whenever the issue of gay right class, I never heard any teacher con first time I ever told somebody, I w

ay, bisexual, transgender oning (LGBTQ) students. dent Rob Metz said he k is a comfortable place Q students. id he thinks Park is more han other schools because se community. ve an advantage of being ly environment here, that o accept more and accept r who they are,” Metz re so than other places not had that same diverse .” gh Metz said he believes ry accepting, he also said ssues some students and with. udent who faced issues time at Park is transgender llie Michaelynn, who

rson ever the break in sevprise. First of I fit a lot of at there were out it, but no nestly had no lly supportive ot of troubles. the (middle le) Stark and nd they were portive about ts came up in ndemn it. The was in seventh

now attends Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley. Michaelynn said he wanted to attend school in a more welcoming environment. “I wanted a more accepting place. I didn’t feel like people respected me for who I wanted to be and who I was at Park,” Michaelynn said. “I wanted a place where I could be more open and express who I am.” Although there still are problems like Michaelynn’s, health teacher Amy Berchem said she thinks the health class curriculum can be influential on student’s views toward the LGBTQ community. She said during the creation of the health curriculum, an advisory board of students supported keeping the Matthew Shepard story in the class. “The kids relate to ‘The Matthew Shepard Story’ because of the age and some of the kids have heard it before and it really hits home,”

grade, and I had gotten home (for) Thanksgiving. The Tuesday of Thanksgiving vacation, I came home and I was in the basement alone. I was texting my friend. I knew that I wanted to tell her at school, but then I never really did, and I really wanted to during the day, but I think didn’t have the bravery. So I texted her and I planned on doing it through text. I kept sending the message but then I hit cancel, so that the message wouldn’t send. Finally, after about five minutes of that I typed the message and I hit send. I threw my phone across the room so that I couldn’t change it. St. Louis Park is an accepting place for LGBT students. It’s diverse and it makes me feel like everybody accepts everybody for who they are.”

Berchem said. This hate crimes unit may resonate among students, but Michaelynn said he thinks the LGBTQ section should be expanded within health class and other classrooms to increase awareness. “Teachers should be able to openly talk about gay sex,” Michaelynn said. “The topic has been avoided for so long that people don’t recognize that gay people do have relationships. Gay people do continue their lives. They act like normal people and everything.” As well as educating health students about the LGBTQ community, according to transgender senior Declan Fruchtman, the Park staff is already accepting and helpful. “I haven’t had problems with students really. The staff has been helpful, offering to do whatever they can to help out,” Fruchtman said. Gay Straight Alliance (GSA)

adviser Kyle Sweeney said she thinks the staff is accepting of all students, but forms of teaching maintain only heterosexual examples. “In general the teachers are welcoming,” she said. “There is still some heteronormativity, which is assuming everyone is heterosexual. It’s in classes, textbooks and mediums teachers use.” While often different forms of relationships are not mentioned in teaching mediums, 88 percent of students at Park support same-sex marriage, according to the survey conducted Nov. 27 and Dec. 2-3. Freshman Makayla Jones-Klausing’s moms have been together for 25 years, and Jones-Klausing said she considers Park a safe and welcoming place for the LGBTQ community. “A lot of my friends are very supportive of me and my family,” Jones-Klausing said. “I hear a lot of people who don’t know about my

n ninth grade I transferred to Park, and I met some of the most accepting people and some of the most hateful people I’ve ever met in my life. At times I felt really safe and at times I felt terrified to walk down the halls. At the beginning of ninth grade, when I came out to my class, everyone started laughing so that was not a great start to the year. Then in tenth grade, I realized I wasn’t gay, I was transgender, and that was a big thing for me to go through. I wanted to be seen as and portrayed as a boy. I was in the closet at Park because I couldn’t come out as being transgender. I was terrified at the beginning of the year at Park for being gay and I was starting to come out as transgender

family talking about the marriage amendment in a supportive way, and that’s really cool.” Sweeney said she believes part of the reason students are more accepting at Park is because of the confidence of LGBTQ students. “I think that does really help with the school atmosphere, the kids that come out know they can be comfortable with themselves, then they are comfortable with themselves and other people can be too,” she said.

to some of my friends. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my life. I will always remember going to the Respect Retreat in ninth grade and (standing) up in front of half of my grade and (coming) out to everyone as being gay. I said people shouldn’t be ashamed to be who they are and people shouldn’t force them to be in the closet their whole lives. But when I realized I was transgender, I had a more difficult time with that. Then when I transferred to (Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley), I came out as transgender. I don’t think Park is bad, I’m not trying to bash Park at all. I loved that place for a long time, I was just kind of scared, and I realize that a lot of people at Park are confused and scared too.”

ormally I would consider waking up before the sun awful, but four days of the week, I find myself waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go to school every morning for an hour of strength and conditioning. Though it was a slow process, my goal for the end of this lifting season was to be able to do one pull up. Often we test to see how far we have improved and on the day of testing, I climbed up to the bar and began to slowly pull myself up. After what seemed like forever, I finally reached the top and proceeded to make a huge mistake. Instead of lifting my chin up and completing my first pull up, I ducked my head down and dropped. I had failed myself and it was devastating. Although it was hard, I decided that instead of focusing on my failure, I needed to turn my mistake into a learning experience. Just because I could not do a pull up that day does not mean that I’m never going to be able to do one. My hard work will eventually pay off, and I will succeed. Not reaching a goal on the first time does not mean it’s unattainable. It only means you have to work harder for the next time. Since failing to do my first pull up, I have worked hard and made progress with my abilities. I can now finish three sets of eight pull ups with only one resistance band, which for me is a huge improvement. This improvement makes me want to do better for my next set. This drive is what should push us all to continue on our path toward excellence, whether it be in lifting or your academics. It is important to continue working toward your goals, no matter what the obstacles might be. Even if you do not meet your goal, be sure to learn from the experience. Strength and conditioning has taught me the value of looking past failure, a lesson that I applied outside of the weight room. Seeing a low test grade once would have given me nightmares. However, I now see it as an opportunity to face my weaknesses, and it motivates me to do better the next time. Failing is not a time to get down on yourself, rather an opportunity to strive forward and improve. Success is not measured by how quickly you achieve your goal. The effort you put in is just as important, if not more important than reaching the final goal. Overcoming my failure made me realize learning from mistakes is what builds a better person. Looking back now, I see that the number of pull ups I can do does not outweigh the lesson strength and conditioning has taught me.

nly weeks after their season ended, some players were shocked when athletic director Andy Ewald told them their head coach resigned. Girls’ volleyball head coach Mark Nelson met with Ewald for a postseason meeting Nov. 13. Ewald cited data privacy policies as the reason he could not comment. Nelson was unavailable to comment. A meeting was set up that night for players or parents interested in attending. Ewald told those at the meeting that Nelson resigned. Freshman team member Siona Kelly said she was surprised by the announcement. “I was really shocked because I had no idea (it was coming),” Kelly said. “From what I could tell, he really cared about the program, and he didn’t make it seem like he was going to resign.” Junior captain Amra Mucic said she thinks Nelson’s resignation will have a positive impact on the team. “The environment caused by (Nelson)

made the girls not want to come back,” Mucic said. “I think it’s going to motivate us to be better players, because it’s a new slate.” Kelly said she agrees, and said because no player is guaranteed her same position, next year’s season will be a new beginning for the team. “Ewald said no one is guaranteed a spot next year and the coaches won’t have favorites, so it will be a fresh start,” Kelly said. The open position was advertised and the search for a new head coach has begun already, according to Ewald. “I put the job out there, where hopefully

unning long distances has been a part of human culture for thousands of years, but never before have organized races been as popular with young adults, according to a Oct. 2013 study. The study, conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, more young adults are participating in fun runs than ever before, especially those under the age of 18.

Dr. Daniel Cushman, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said he attributes the shift to the growing appeal of staying in shape. “There is a greater interest in running among high school athletes,” he said. “People view running more as exercise instead of just a sport.” According to the study, 10 percent of runners are under the age of 20, and one in five are under the age of 25. Caleb Olsen, the director of operations for Podium Sports, the company that organizes the Turkey Trot in Minneapolis, said the growing participation in these events is because of the atmosphere created during

(the position) can get some people interested in it,” Ewald said. “(Coaching) is a lot of time and energy for not a lot coming back the other way, so again, even finding coaches is a tough thing to do. Finding good coaches is a really hard thing to do.” Although she will not be on the team next season, senior captain Holly Westwood said she thinks Nelson’s resignation will be beneficial for the team. “Hopefully the new coach will re-energize the team and help remind them about the fun part of playing volleyball,” Westwood said.

races. “The different themes appeal to a younger crowd,” he said. “In terms of a social event, people like to accomplish something and running is a good way to do that.” A number of students from Park participated in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, including junior Kyle Nordstrom. He said he doesn’t enjoy running, but likes the sense of achievement upon completion. “Nothing is fun about running, it’s not fun struggling to complete the race,” he said. “But you feel accomplished when you cross the finish line.” A list of upcoming runs can be found at, including past favorites such as the Polar Dash Jan. 1, 2014.

tudents will now have a new way to put their faith into action at the high school. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club will begin meeting second semester. The club is open to all students who participate in school sports, regardless of their religious views. However, the main focus of the cub will be on bridging the gap between faith, sports leadership and life as an observant Christian according to club adviser Elizabeth Yetzer. The main focus is giving students a place to relate to each other and explore their faiths, Yetzer said. “There are many analogies between sports and faith and life,” she said.“This club will also help create accountability for responsible behavior (between Christian athletes) throughout the school and on the field.” Junior Ilyls Mohammad said he supports the club if they are supportive of all students. “I support them, as long as members helping people they should be able to do what they want,” Mohammad said. FCA clubs have become more popular and are already established in many schools surrounding St. Louis Park, including Edina,

Hopkins, Minnetonka and Wayzata. Student leader junior Rebecca Brubaker said she is looking forward to using the group to meet new students who share her beliefs. “Just having the experience to talk with other students about their sports and their faith is exciting,” Brubaker said. Because of the FCA’s connection with religion, some students said they are not supportive of school involvement in religion. Sophomore Cecilene Koller is concerned about bringing religion into the school. “It might start a little bit of controversy because of certain religions,” she said. Yetzer said although it’s difficult to combine faith and academics, the club will be student-led and is available for everyone. “It’s tricky to combine school and religion. We already have groups to support a lot of different beliefs and interests in the school, so I don’t think there should be a reason why you shouldn’t support the FCA club,” Yetzer said. Yetzer said she encourages all athletes to join. Currently the clubs four student leaders, are focused on spreading the word on the new club. “I would say come check it out, anyone’s welcome there’s no grading or evaluation,” said Yetzer. “This is a perfect environment for you to come if you have any questions .about your faith, the goal is to be fun and real.”

Junior Molly Mintz Downhill skiing

I started skiing when I was 2, but I didn’t start racing until I was 7.

My competitors are also my friends on the team, so when somebody does really well and you don’t do so well, it’s really hard to be happy for them because they are on your team. At the same time, you also want to beat them.

It’s the improvement you get and the huge adrenaline rush when you are going super fast down a hill. When you have a good run you feel so proud afterward. It feels so good to have a clean, perfect run. You just always want that feeling.

Falling. I hate falling, I really hate it. You have to not be afraid to fall because that is how you go at the gates, but I hate it. I hate it so much. I tore my lip open. It wasn’t fun.

ast year’s boys’ basketball team accomplished a 20-6 record, which hasn’t happened in over 30 years. Of last year’s team, 11 seniors graduated. Therefore, this year’s team consists mostly of juniors and underclassman, along with one senior. The team is trying to stay positive as the season progresses, according to junior captain Wes Johnson. “Having seniors is always good, but we might have a slow start due to the lack of experience,” Johnson said. Head coach David Breitenbucher said he thinks one aspect the players will have to improve upon is their maturity. “This year we’ll have to grow up a lot to play at the varsity level,” Breitenbucher said. “I think we’ll be fine, but will have some challenges.” Breitenbucher also said he thinks the key to great accomplishments is consistency. “Our goal is to play consistently, no matter who we play, and get better in each game and practice,” he said. Junior captain Nick Kjos said despite the lack of seniors the team remains close. “We communicate really well on the court, which is our biggest thing,” Kjos said. Although they communicate very well, with out the leadership of seniors the team struggles for a role model to set an example. “With the loss of seniors there’s not going

My really good friend Peter, he is in college now, but since I was 9, he was the good skier of the team and everyone wanted to be him. I didn’t really talk to him until the summer after he left the team, and now when he came back last year, he helped me so much with my skiing.

to be a certain leadership, the seniors seemed to have command of the court, but this season can be just as good if we work hard and practice.” Breitenbucher said this year’s class of seniors doesn’t have very many players. “I’m not sure why there aren’t many seniors, but we saw this coming,” Breitenbucher said. “This is just a class with not a lot dedicated to basketball.” Dec. 7 the team played against Burnsville. Park lost 42-74, bringing Park’s overall record to 0-5. Park’s next game home game is against Waconia 7:15 p.m. Dec. 13 at Park. Kjos said students can help the boys’ basketball team improve its record by attending the games and supporting the them. “It brings energy to the team and school spirit to the team and school spirit helps,” Kjos said.

You’ve got to have confidence, and it’s made me a much more social person because you are with these people. You don’t see them a lot, but when you see them you can’t just ignore them. You have to be confident going down the hill, if you’re not going to move, then you look stupid.

My friend Lotus Schifsky and I were racing slalom. I am really good at giant slalom, which is where the gates are farther apart. It was my breakthrough year. I beat her, and got second out of all the girls in my age group. I got second twice that year and the championship medal and that was my proudest moment. I finally got to where I wanted to be.

St. Louis Park Senior High School 6425 West 33rd Street St. Louis Park, MN 55426 Ari Weinstein Brenna Cook Josh Scal Steffenhagen Weisner Green Wickland

Claire Gabe Bichinho & Emma Cole Bacig & Carter Khadija Charif & Conner

Lucas Kempf Noah Betz-Richman Shoshi Fischman, Madisen Lynch & Amira Warren-Yearby Josh Anderson Suh Koller Artis Curiskis Sten Johnson Isaac Greenwood Ladan Abdi, Maddy Bremner Sean Cork, Ori Etzion, Malik Grays, Noa Grossman, Carolyn Guddal, David Hope, Brita Hunegs, Peter Johnson, Ivy Kaplan, Zoe Kedrowski, John Kinney, Emily Melbye, Josh Mesick, Noa Raasch, Noah Robiner, Alonso Ruiz, Natalie Sanford, Sara Tifft, Natalie Vig, Daniel Vlodaver, Erin Wells Jonah Resnick Joann Karetov Quad Graphics Lori Keekley

The Echo is the official student-produced newspaper of St. Louis Park Senior High School. It is published tri-weekly for the school’s students, staff and community. The Echo will not be reviewed by school administrators prior to distribution, and the adviser will not act as a censor. Content represents views of the student staff and not school officials. The Echo will work to avoid bias and/ or favoritism. We will strive to make our coverage and content meaningful and interesting to all our readers. We will make every effort to avoid printing libel, obscenities, innuendo and material that threatens to disrupt the learning process or is an invasion of privacy. We will avoid electronic manipulation that alters the truth of a photograph. Staff editorials represent the opinion of the editorial board arrived at by discussion and will not be bylined. Bylined articles are the opinion of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo staff or administration as a whole. The Echo welcomes reader input. Letters to the editor and suggestions may be emailed to or submitted in room C275. Letters must be signed and should be no longer than 250 words. Emailed letters must be verified prior to publication. We will not necessarily publish all letters received and reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. Anonymous letters wherein the Echo does not know the identity of the writer will not be printed. Advertisements will be sought from local businesses. We maintain the right to reject any ads we believe to be false, misleading, inappropriate or harmful. The Echo does not necessarily endorse the products or services offered in these advertisements.

NSPA All-American and Hall of Fame member; NSPA 2007, 2011, 2013 Pacemaker Finalist, 2010 National Pacemaker Award Recipient; JEM All-State; CSPA Gold Medalist; 2012 CSPA Silver Crown, 2013 CSPA Gold Crown.

ast summer’s legalization of gay marriage in Minnesota was an important event many students feel passionate about. While students may feel gay rights is a non-issue, work still needs to be done. A survey of 292 students recently conducted in some English classrooms by the Echo shows 93 percent of students consider the high school accepting toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community. While these results show acceptance and tolerance on behalf of students, it’s important that our actions reflect our thoughts. In a separate investigation, Echo staffers posted around the school listened for slurs relating to the LGBTQ population during a passing period Nov. 25 in the B1 and A3 hallways. Eight slurs were heard in a period of five minutes. This investigation illustrates the difference between how students claim to feel, and how they act. The student body should create the most welcoming environment possible. Several steps must be taken to ensure our actions represent our thoughts. No student deserves to feel unwelcome in his or her school. We can ensure students feel welcome by eliminating offensive LGBTQ slurs. While students do have a right to speak their mind and have their voices heard, using derogatory and offensive language is no way to do that. If you hear a student using a slur, politely step in and tell them they are acting disrespectfully. By intervening, we show we care about making others feel welcome. Teachers

t may be hard for teen drivers to turn down Miley Cyrus’ anthem “We Can’t Stop” whenever it comes on the radio. If they don’t turn off the radio while driving, though, students may not be able to stop themselves from thinking more about the music than their driving. Even with both eyes on the road, teens especially can easily be distracted while driving and listening to music. It’s easy to start thinking about the words in a song rather than what’s written on a street sign, and tapping your foot to the beat of a song causes a slower reaction time to step on the breaks. It is imperative teenage drivers turn off the radio when they get out on the road to ensure their own safety and the safety of other drivers. In a September 2013 study conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, researchers assessed the mistakes made by 85 teenagers while driving and listening to music. The study found teenage drivers are extremely distracted while listening to music from a playlist of their choice as opposed to a random playlist of music or no music at all. In the study, 98 percent of drivers made errors an average of three times during their drive; 32 percent needed a verbal warning to prevent a collision, and 20 percent of drivers needed a passenger to intervene by grabbing the steering wheel. According to Dr. Warren Brodsky, the survey’s conductor and director of music science research at Ben-Gurion University, most

must also take action when they see or feel a student is uncomfortable. The issue of same-sex marriage is still controversial. The classroom survey showed 12 percent of students do not support same-sex marriage. It would be hypocritical of students to stand up for those who are being offended by slurs, but not be willing to listen to the opinions of the 12 percent of the student body who do not support same-sex marriage. According to the survey students agree the people and cultures surrounding them have

teenagers listen to loud, fast-paced music, which is more distracting than quieter, slower music. Because of the combination of high volume and quick tempo, drivers absentmindedly prioritize listening to music over watching the road, even more than what’s going on outside their cars. In order to protect themselves and everyone else on the road, teens should consider music as serious a distraction as texting or talking on the phone while driving. Even though listening to the radio or a playlist is a largely hands-free activity, it can nonetheless draw attention away from the road. In order to avoid potential accidents, drivers, particularly teenagers, should refrain from listening to music while on the road. Safety is more important than a new hit single on the radio.

an effect on their attitude on the LGBTQ community. Sixty-four percent of students said they think their peers affected their attitudes toward the LGBTQ community. Nearly half of all students, 48 percent, said they think their school has an effect as well. It would be naive to think that our actions don’t affect other students. If the student body feels it is an accepting and welcoming community, it must actively demonstrate that in the classroom, the hallways and at home.

To Club rejection. The cafeteria’s forks are looking pretty dangerous.

To the new Pingpong club. I hope they don’t drop the ball.

To local bird processing. I hope they don’t accept Orioles.

In the Nov. 13 issue, Kaleb Schweizer’s name on page nine was misspelled. The Echo regrets this error.

C.G., C.G., S.J.

hile the American education system strives to create a personalized teaching system for its students, the Common Core fails to do just that. The program places a strict set of standards that students in kindergarten through 12th grade will have to follow according to the Common Core State Standard Initiative. The new standards take away from what students are learning in class and diminish the personalized school experience. The Common Core standards are extremely broad and vague because most students will be placed in the same group based on grade instead of individual needs. The major problem with this is that all high school students will have to go through

classes with an untested curriculum. This will undoubtedly inhibit the learning experience of students with different learning inclinations in the classroom. According to Maria Ferguson, the executive director of the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University, state officials won’t be able to tell if the new Common Core standards will improve our testing scores for the next decade. In Kentucky, the first state to adopt Common Core standards, the number of students proficient in reading unexpectedly dropped by one third since the change. With this in mind, making sweeping changes to the educational system of Minnesota may be detrimental to the learning and success of students. Since the Common Core Standards don’t match the needs of students, it shouldn’t be started in Minnesota. Now is not the time for a restrictive learning environment to expand into classrooms.

he point of education is to create a more knowledgeable population. The goal of Common Core is to do that. The Common Core is a standardized system of education meant to increase students’ academic success throughout their schooling experience by increasing both rigor in classrooms and educational standards to improve students future lives. To help students prepare for the increasingly international world, the Common Core is designed to put the U.S. education system on par with most other countries. According to a survey done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. education system has been declining throughout the last 20 years, creating a sig-

nificant gap between the U.S. and other countries systems of education. The educational achievement decline in America is mainly affecting the younger half of the population. This could severely disadvantage the American economy and global influence throughout the future. The Common Core standards are designed to increase rigor in classes and increase the critical thinking process of the student. According to Dr. Barbara Blackburn, a renowned education specialist, the lack of rigor exists in most classrooms because of the lack of standardization. Classroom rigor is important for preparing students for post-secondary education. Common Core will increase rigor throughout the classes, preparing students. The Common Core system should be implemented into each state’s curriculum to increase the U.S.’s international competitiveness through rigorous classes and increased standardization with other countries.

hile students must learn in a positive environment, punishing students for insurrectional behavior by allowing them to miss more school doesn’t exactly help these students in the future. That’s why this May, the Los Angeles Unified School District ended suspensions for “willing disobedience” altogether. In an April 2013 study of more than 26,000 middle and high schools, UCLA Civil Rights Project researchers found that for students who receive suspensions, the dropout rate doubles from 16 percent to 32 percent. While suspensions may not serve as the only cause of this increase, this information should lead schools to examine the effectiveness of their discipline policies. Locally, Park has decreased the rate of out-of-school suspensions in recent years through the use of alternate disciplinary actions. Still, Park can do much to continue this trend even further. While the school has seen an overall decrease in suspensions, the demographic discrepancies within the current disciplinary system can’t be ignored. Non-white students, who make up 37 percent of the student body, account for 72 percent of the disciplinary actions taken by the school according to St. Louis Park High School data. This makes them four times more likely to receive disciplinary action than their white counterparts, and the gap in graduation rates between white and non-white students at the school, suspension rates undoubtedly are a factor in this racial gap. To achieve greater equality and results the school can move beyond state regulations and formulate a formal policy based on mediation, personalized conversations and comprehensive behavior plans. These not only provide individual attention to struggling students and can help prevent future problematic behavior. School doesn’t have to function like a prison. If Park works to reduce suspensions through coordinated plans and active counseling, it can work to build a more positive learning environment while increasing its graduation rate at the same time.

hile Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, it is also known for its bitterly cold winters. Many parks and facilities offer ways to enjoy the Minnesota winter even during the coldest days. This year, The Depot in downtown Minneapolis offers indoor ice skating, Centennial Lakes in Edina has outdoor ice skating and Afton Alps in Hastings offers downhill skiing along with a new terrain park. Amy Reents, marketing manager at Afton Alps, said the park has many new features this year aimed at enhancing the visitor’s experience. “The main things are the terrain parks, a food truck, high speed rope tows, enhanced menu items, a new guest service facility and 72 snow machines,” Reents said. “The terrain park

“The Phantom of the Opera” opens at the Orpheum Theatre. The play revolves around Christine, a young Frenchwoman who is drawn into a Parisian opera house by the ghost of a deformed composer. Tickets start at $39 or $44, and can be purchased for rush pricing 15 minutes prior to showtimes on Wednesdays.

ranges from intermediate to advanced and there is a new area for learning.” Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area has many slopes available for skiing and snowboarding. Fred Seymore, Alpine services manager at Hyland, said the Hyland facilities have not changed much from years past. “We offer good skiing and snowboarding. We have a large facility for rentals. We offer food services and lessons,” Seymore said. Although the only new aspect of the park this year is an upgraded snowmaking capacity, Seymore said it is a fun place for students to go. “It’s close. It’s convenient and the best terrain park in the state,” he said Centennial Lakes Park’s skating pond will open depending on weather. There is a warming house and three skating ponds connected by canals. Laura Knollmaier, assistant manager of Centennial Lakes Park said although they are not offering any new attractions this year, it is still a great place for students to go. “It’s a unique, fun outdoor atmo-

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” releases nationwide. Following its 2004 hit predecessor, “Anchorman 2” stars Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, the raunchy newscaster, with Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner as members of his news team. In the film, the team adjusts to life in the 1980s on the streets of New York City after starting new jobs.

sphere that you can’t find anywhere else in the metro, and it’s good for dates,” Knollmaier said. According to Robert Payne, director of sales and marketing at The Depot, the ice skating rink was listed as one of the top 10 rinks in the United States by “Voter’s Travel,” and offers many features. “We offer skate rentals, both hockey skates and figure skates, people can also privately rent the rink,” Payne said. “We have skating with Santa Dec. 15, and new food items such as hot panini, pizza and soup.” Payne said an advantage of going to The Depot is that it is indoors, so students can stay warm during cold days. “They can experience the natural light that floods into the rink, and it’s about 40 degrees in the rink,” Payne said. Sophomore Abby Melbye said she thinks enjoying the outdoors during the winter is a nice change of pace from staying indoors. “It’s nice to get fresh air,” Melbye said. “When you sit inside for a long time it gets stuffy in the winter.”

Storyteller Lina Wiksten recites of Swedish folktales at the American Swedish Institute. The stories are part of the Institute’s Winter Break Wonders series, and admission is included with a $5 ticket to the Institute. Wiksten will perform two readings, at 1 and 2 p.m., and listeners can create their own Swedish monster masks following each performance.

Echo issue 5